Entering the final week of regular season play, Clackamas Community College’s baseball team found itself in a three-way tie for fourth place in the South Region of the Northwest Athletic Conference with Clark Community College, and Chemeketa Community College. Mt. Hood Community College had already finished league play last Saturday and sat alone in third place with a league record of 14-16. To catch the Saints, Clackamas would need four wins with one five game series versus Chemeketa. After a shocking 20-10 loss, the margin of error has been erased and the Cougars must win the next four games of the series versus Chemeketa or miss the playoffs for another season.
In the top of the third inning Clackamas blew the door wide open in the first game of the series with a grand slam from sophomore outfielder Tyler Parker (sixth home run of the season.) The Cougars scored three more runs before the Storm could stop the offensive attack trailing 7-0.
“We were pretty stoked about the lead,” sophomore outfielder Andy Schubert said. “And we were doing real hot, but as the game went on we got quieter and quieter and almost less competitive in a way, it just started spiraling down [after the fourth inning].”
Chemeketa would score a run in the bottom of the third inning to get on the scoreboard, 7-1.
In the top of the fourth inning, Parker added his second HR of the game (seventh of HR of the season) and sophomore outfielder Grant Horwitz (fourth HR of the season) added one of his own to give Clackamas a 9-1 lead.
“It felt pretty good [to get the early lead],” Horowitz said. “We knew it was a big game, we’re still alive, but when you jump on them early it feels pretty good.”
Sophomore pitcher Cody Anderson started on the mound for Clackamas. Holding Chemeketa to three hits and one run through four innings, and having a 9-1 lead, it looked like Anderson was on his way to recording his fourth win of the season. Things went astray in the bottom of the fifth inning. Anderson gave up four runs on four hits and was pulled from the game with the Cougars holding on to a 9-5 lead and the bases loaded.
“We had a few errors and the pitch count moved up,” Anderson said. “I started missing in the zone and they started to bunt and then they started to hit well.”
Sophomore pitcher Grayson Fenwick replaced Anderson on the hill for Clackamas and after throwing his third pitch, the Cougars lead was trimmed to 9-7 and after an error by freshman third baseman Nathan Loranger, Clackamas found themselves trailing Chemeketa 10-9. Fenwick would get a fly out that would end the fifth inning, but not before the Storm added one more run to take a two run lead 11-9.
“We fell apart,” Loranger said. “Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. I thought we had the game in the bag, but they started hitting the ball and we started kicking the ball around. They got the momentum and they ran with it.”
Chemeketa would go on to outscore Clackamas 9-1 in the last three innings of Tuesday’s contest and the game was called after eight innings due to the ten-run rule, with Chemeketa leading 20-10, the game ending run coming on a wild pitch from sophomore pitcher Chase Conner.
“You flush it because there’s no way it’s going to happen again,” Anderson said. “That’s the first time that I’ve ever been a part of a 20-10 baseball game and I’ve been playing baseball for 15 years. We need to just go out there and compete on every pitch.”
The loss moved Clackamas to 10-16 in league play and sixth place in the South Region. Now trailing Clark and Chemeketa by one game, the Cougars need to win out to guarantee a spot in the NWAC playoffs.
Games two and three of the series versus Chemeketa will be played this coming Friday at Clackamas Community College.